Germany Has One of the World's Only Upside-down Railways — and the Views Are Incredible

·2 min read

As the summer travel season begins to heat up, many travelers' eyes are on Germany. The country is home to countless unique cultural experiences: beer halls, palaces, famous cars, bratwurst — and one of the world's only "upside-down" railways.

The Wuppertal Schwebebahn has given the city of Wuppertal in northern Rhine an unusual claim to fame. It is one of only two suspended public transit railways in the world still in operation. (For those curious: the only other is in Japan.)

Schwebebahn Train Crossing a Street in Wuppertal Germany
Schwebebahn Train Crossing a Street in Wuppertal Germany

Allard Schager/Getty Images

In a country that prides itself on punctuality and engineering, the Schwebeban is a popular way to get around — for both locals and tourists. The unconventional public transit system is about eight miles of monorail, six of which are suspended over the city. Passengers glide over rooftops and across the Wupper River, like they're on some fanciful amusement park ride.

The monorail has become a vital part of the city, carrying about 80,000 passengers every single day. It is particularly beloved by locals not only for its views but for the fact that it never has to battle traffic. Cars come about every five minutes, so you'll never have to wait long to board.

Schwebebahn Train Passing a Church in Wuppertal Germany
Schwebebahn Train Passing a Church in Wuppertal Germany

Allard Schager/Getty Images

Construction on the Schwebebahn began in 1898 and it began offering its first rides in 1901. By 1925, the railway hit a major milestone when it ferried its 20-millionth passenger across the Wupper River. And the innovations continue. In 2019, all the carriages were replaced with sleek new "Generation 15" rail cars. If you're going to visit, try getting a seat at the rear of one of the cars. It's where you'll have the best vantage point as you glide over the city.

Wuppertal Suspension Railway (floating train) in the German town in Nord Rhine Westaphalia
Wuppertal Suspension Railway (floating train) in the German town in Nord Rhine Westaphalia

boerescul/Getty Images

The railway has become a beloved landmark in the area. "I don't think there's a more iconic symbol representing both Wuppertal and Barmen than the Schwebebahn," one local, Rosemarie Weingarten, told CNN. "It has always been there for me and I'm proud that it is still running."

Riding the entire railway line from head to tail (which includes stops at 20 different stations) takes about 30 minutes. If you're visiting, consider purchasing unlimited 24-hour access to the Schwebebahn for €7.30 (about $7.70). Single rides are available for €3.

Cailey Rizzo is a contributing writer for Travel + Leisure, currently based in Brooklyn. You can find her on Twitter, Instagram, or at caileyrizzo.com.